I am studying tractography technique which aims to reconstruct bundles of axons in brain by following the diffusion direction of water. It exploits the difference between grey matter and white matter: in white matter (axons) we find an anisotropic environment since there is a preferential direction of diffusivity of water molecules that is along the axons direction, while in grey matter the environment is isotropic since molecules do not move with a preferential direction. The diffusion of molecules is generally given by a difference of concentration of molecules between two points but they should move even though this gradient is not present because of the temperature so because of the fact that they have a certain thermal energy. Therefore my question is: why do molecules move along the axons direction ? Is there a biological aspect that causes like a difference in concentration between the starting point and the ending point ? Maybe the answer is trivial but since I am neither a biologist nor a medicine graduated student, I do not know it :) and I am not able to find something on web . It seems that I find only explanations for diffusion of water molecules from outside the cell to inside... However I would like to know the reason why they move in the same direction of the axon.

  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because it was cross posted and answered at Biology.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 23, 2021 at 16:31
  • A: Because axons are effectively a "dense bundle of thick, fatty hoses" [through which water will diffuse]. (Bryan's answer paraphrased) Oct 5, 2021 at 1:27